Claire Tse, diversity, equity and inclusion expert and founder of Tse Solutions, joins Dr. Vanessa Weaver to discuss the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and sentiments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also talks about her experiences as a Chinese-American woman facing racial and gender bias, how organizations can combat such discrimination in the workplace, the nuances that impact how Asian Americans are viewed and the ways one can support Asian-American colleagues.
In this Episode
· The rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic
· The model minority stereotype and how it harms Asians and Asian Americans
· The intersection of racism, sexism and misogyny and its impact on Asian women
· How to help Asian Americans speak up about their experiences and how to address anti-Asian racism
· How senior leaders can support and empower their Asian/Asian-American employees
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Workin’ It Out
Diversity and Inclusion Television
Dr. Vanessa Weaver: Welcome, I'm Dr. Vanessa Weaver. In season one of Workin' It Out, I spoke with Deborah Tsai-Munster, Executive Vice President of Seramount, about the rise of anti-Asian bias. I made a commitment that this would not be a one and done show, so I'm continuing to explore this important topic with today's guest, the renowned Claire Tse, founder of Tse Solutions.
Claire is a phenomenal woman. First of all, she's first generation Chinese American. She is renowned as a diversity, equity and inclusion expert, and she works with clients to identify strategies and approaches to overcome generational, racial and gender bias, so that teams and groups of people can work together more effectively and achieve both tactical and strategic successes in their organizations.
And Claire is an author. She co-authored the book, The Solve Communication Method, which explains how language and cultural nuances can impact how we communicate with each other. And so Claire, I just want to thank you so much for being on our show today, and being willing to share your expertise on this whole status of anti-Asian hate. So thank you so much, Claire.
Claire Tse: Oh, thank you so much, Dr. Weaver, for your kind words, and also honoring me to share some of the thoughts and the experiences of what's going on with the AAPI community.
Weaver: Well, Claire, I know that you, have and thank you for that, I know that you have some data. We usually start our segments with doing a Did You Know, and as part of my training, just being like a data person, right? But this stop Asian hate it's really important for people to know this kind of epidemic rise in the anti-Asian hate that's occurring in our country.
For example, since March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2021, there have been about 6,600 reports of anti-Asian discrimination. And then when you break down those numbers, 65% verbal harassment, 18% shunning like avoiding, and also the scary piece on top of all of that, it's almost 13% consist of physical assault. And what's interesting is that when I looked at these reported incidents of anti-Asian hate, 65% of them were reported by Asian women. So it seems like Asian women are taking the lead, and ensuring that the country and people know the kind of experiences they're having in their communities. Is this consistent with what you understand, Claire?
Tse: Yes, this is exactly what's happening. And the reason that a lot of the women are speaking up because culturally, the men and the women have said, keep your head down and just keep going forward, regardless of what's going on. And what happens is then because a lot of us are the matriarchs in the family is like you can disrespect me, you can attack me.
But what happens is that others are actually attacking our elders which is revered in each of our cultures, and we said we need to stop this, and we need to say, I can't be quiet anymore because with, as your your numbers are, those numbers are actually underreported because a lot of us don't say anything because we're trained as kids to say, keep your head down, keep moving forward, and bring pride to your family.
Weaver: And so reporting this brings what, if it doesn't bring pride, does it bring embarrassment or shame? What's the flip of that?
Tse: Well, what happens is then we've experienced, I've experienced it all my life as a perpetual foreigner, oh, you speak English so well, and some of those issues around the model minority myth, where people feel that AAPI individuals are, we're handed our successes, and our hard work is not worth it. I mean your numbers really speak to it. In terms of the AAPI hate crimes, it's up 169% in 2021 alone. Black hate crimes are 88%, Latino/Latina hate crimes are 38%, and in New York City, it's up 223%.
Tse: We have a lot of population there in San Francisco, 140%.
Weaver: So that percentage gets higher where there's a bigger population of Asians.
Tse: Yeah, exactly.
Weaver: Well, you know, Claire, one of the things that you talked about, and I wanted to be able to have this conversation, a candid conversation, and I said to you, I said Claire, when I look at these stories in the media, with the exception of that Atlanta story, most of them show Blacks and Latinas, but particularly Blacks perpetuating some of this physical harm and assault against Asians. And I said, is that your understanding, is that what the data says? And of course my team went out and researched it, and we found that 75% of the incidents of anti-Asian hate, unfortunately are by whites, not the majority being Black, but what's the talk, what's the the kind of private conversations about who's perpetuating this and why?
Tse: Yeah, I think part of that, with the groups that I've been working with is that it's, the Blacks are really highlighting, because they want to pit us against each other, the model minority, The BIPOC, Black Indigenous People of Color. If BIPOC is supposed to really work and focus in on what the Black community is experiencing, how come everyone is getting killed one a day. And it's just at least that are reported, and there's the the pitting against each other. And I think that's part of it, Also we don't want to have the whites bringing it up even though they're doing most of the hate crimes, it's just easier minority versus minority.
Weaver: Well we could talk about it in percentages, but each one of these percentages represents a real person right?
Weaver: Their family had been impacted. I shared the stat that 75% of these anti-Asian hate crimes are being perpetrated by whites against Asians, yet when we look in the media, well, at least what I see is that most of those crimes, the video treatment has been Blacks against Asians. And you were making a really interesting point, I wanted you to underscore that again for us. And it was a part about this divisiveness and separating groups, can you talk a little bit more about that?
Tse: Yeah. I mean, part of that is taking a look at what the media is doing is that they're taking a look at Black hate crimes around Asians. And what happens is then they're not living long enough to really go through the whole process. It's just a one and done, they walk by. But if you take a look at Atlanta, that was a white man, and he shot, he was able to get handcuffed and said he had a bad day. And it's the kind of thing where same thing happened in Boulder, the white men that are perpetrators, they live long enough to get handcuffed.
And so this is part of the really struggle, and the fear factor for the AAPI community, because we were partnering, we're there for Black Lives Matter, and then all of a sudden they're coming in and just saying, okay, well, we're going to hit your elder because we're angry about this whole mass thing, or we're angry about the pandemic because it's the yellow peril that happened.
Weaver: Well Claire, at the end of our show, we ask you to share with our listeners and our viewers, some tips and some advice, I'd like for you to come and talk about what can we do? Black, White, Latina, Asian, really come together to address this, but I wanted to kind of move into what's being done. And one of the points you made in our first segment was that before when these hate crimes were happening, oftentimes people in the Asian community didn't often report them but they're reporting them now. So what are some of the efforts that are going on now around this anti-Asian hate? Is it training? Is it more conversation? What's going on to stop it?
Tse: Right now, some of the clients I'm working with are having listening sessions in able to really hear what's going on with the AAPI colleagues that are in, in the workplace, they're in corporate offices, they're in stores, they're in retail and wholesale. And what happens is then they're listening to what the experiences, the fear factor, the lack of advancements, marginalization that we've never really spoken about before, and that's really helpful. Also what happens is a lot of workshops around the cultural aspects of marginalization, and also what can we do from a bystander inside the organization?
Weaver: I'm really curious about these workshops, and I want to talk to you about them, because we were doing, my company Alignment Strategies, we were doing some work with Multicultural women, in a major Fortune 100 Company. And we had Black women, Latina women, Asian women in the session. And what struck me was that when the kind of pain and anger that the Asian women really shared with us about this whole anti-Asian hate, and the fact that they felt that they had to come to work and look all buttoned up and look all like nothing was really going on when they were just fearful and crying on the inside.
And it was so powerful when they opened up and told us their stories about their fear, their children going to school, the fear of their elders and how they have to come to work and not have conversations like it wasn't anything happening. And so when you talked about these organizations that are having listening sessions, that sounds like the best practice, because it supports having real talk, real communications, real conversations on that anti-Asian hate experience that many colleagues are feeling in their workplaces.
Tse: Yes, I agree. And what happens is that before we have those listening sessions we've had the prep sessions to actually give the Asian colleagues opportunities and permission to break out of their culture, because this is so uncomfortable for us to say, we can't say that oh, I've been discriminated against, oh, I was overlooked, I'm fearful of even getting on the subway. And that's the type of thing that you don't want to bring shame to the family but more importantly, it's like suck it up and keep going forward. And so we have the pre-meetings before the listening meetings to allow people to actually share their stories because they don't talk about it at home.
Weaver: They don't talk about it at home, and then they're not talking about it at work, so it's something that they must be just bottling up inside.
Weaver: The women, the tears were so intense, and so full that it really made all of us come to tears too, because you can feel the anger that they were feeling. So, Claire, what's happening, so companies are having these listening sessions where they're getting people together to talk about it. What else is happening? I mean what's happening in the Asian community to prepare them to defend themselves, should they be confronted with an anti-Asian hate attack?
Tse: Well, luckily we have some advocates in terms of some of the actors that have been speaking up to Senate. Luckily we have the Asian hate crime that was finally signed for the second time just a couple of weeks ago.
Weaver: Was this with the President Biden's sign into the COVID 19 Hate Crime Bill?
Tse: Yes. Finally because what happened is that it was presented, we were advocating it and they didn't want to say, oh, we don't want to say it's a hate crime because, I dunno if it's too much work, or you're a small population and we are the fastest growing, cultural and nationality population in the country right now.
Weaver: Well again, one hate crime is one too many. And so I was so glad that they signed that bill, but I do know that it was a lot of concern expressed, that it wasn't like the wording wasn't more powerful enough, and more descriptive of the incidence in experiences that our Asian communities are feeling. Okay so we have this anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill that was signed, we have the listening sessions that companies are doing. It struck me when I was looking at one show where this Asian woman was talking about the fact that they're having more self-defense courses or classes in the Asian community. Are you aware of that?
Tse: Yes. Yeah. And they're being offered for self-defense for both the men and the women.
Weaver: Great. Well, Claire, I want you to talk about what it is you're doing, because I know that your profile in this whole space is just quadruple in terms of people understanding who you are, wanting to know about what you do in particular with this bystander training. I mentioned that you've been very involved in this whole anti-Asian hate movement. And every time I'm reading something or seeing something on the Internet, I see your name in it. So tell us a little bit about the work you're doing, and what you hope to accomplish.
Tse: Part of what I'm working on is with different clients, taking a look at what is really going on, having active listening, checking in with folks, because what happens is then a lot of the AAPI individuals that I'm working with, it's like, I'm invisible, it's like if Black Lives Matter was a really big thing, but these Asian-hate crimes, these are one and done. Oh, Atlanta, that's too bad.
And what happens is then I'm actually working with senior leaders to being an inclusive leader, to really check in with their Asian folks especially, a lot of people are going to the office, some people are not, and there's some isolation, and there's a lot of depression going on. And with I'm taking care of my family, I'm taking care of work, I'm being overlooked, and I got passed over. I'm working so hard, I gave up all of these events and I'm still not being seen as leadership material. And so all I'm doing is I'm working with them to really identify these are skillsets that are there.
Weaver: It's interesting that you're taking this approach. So I know that you do a bystander training, and really facilitating these listening circles and conversations, meaningful conversations. But what I hear you also saying is that there's some real issues impacting Asian and Asian Americans in the workplace, such as equity around advancement and promotion. And oftentimes people assume that Asians have it all together and they're the preferred, the model minority, the preferred minorities so that they're getting all the benefits and what you're stating, and what I know to be fact is that Asians are underrepresented in senior leadership positions in organizations, Asian women have challenges around getting promoted to senior level management. So it's good that this conversation is occurring, because it's not just about the anti-Asian hate examples we've talked about, but it's also the cultural and the kind of biases that go on in our workplaces that impact Asian men and women. So thank you for sharing it with us. So how's it working out? I mean, are you seeing change occur?
Tse: We're doing very minimal change honestly, because what happens is then the Asian men and women are still asked to work really hard. They're the whole model minority myth, they work really hard but they're not recognized, they're speaking up and then their managers are telling them you need to speak up more. It's like I have been speaking up, have you not heard me? And part of that is also they're not at the table, they're not at the decision-making process. And so that's why the strategic plans are so important, with really executable KPIs to say, unless you measure it, it's not going to happen.
Weaver: KPIs means?
Tse: Oh, the Key Performance Indicators, because unless you measure success, it's not going to happen. And with the Asians, it's like, they've been, I keep hearing even people coming in from different countries that are Asian cultural backgrounds, they said, we worked really hard to have this opportunity, and then I come to this country and all of a sudden in the United States and I'm like overlooked, or we're working really hard, that's great, you have to wait your turn.
Weaver: And it's interesting because the stats show that there's been a significant increase in the number of Asians who have come over here to study, who decided to go back home. And that's been a shift because before there was a tendency to want to stay in America, but now the Asians are going back to China, or going back to Japan or going back to Korea, going back to places where they feel number one respected, appreciated, and that they can also contribute to the growth of their country and they'll be valued as leaders. And so what the United States through our bias and our challenge around providing equity for our Asian colleagues, we're suffering in terms of losing a significant element of our talent pool.
Tse: Yep. I agree. Because that's what we're feeling is that if I'm not going to be recognized here, I'm going to go to a place where I am going to be recognized, I can have my skills and I can advance, it's the advancement. So many companies are working in Asia and the APAC area, and yet they don't don't have any Asian representation. So the whites are making the decision, and they're recognizing as like, oh, we don't really know the culture, we don't know the norms, and we don't know what the consumer needs are.
Weaver: Yes, yes. Well, Claire, we have a few minutes left and I know having worked in this field for over 30 years, you have an abundance of advice you can give Asians, that you can give the corporations in which they work. So what would be two or three points of advice you want to share and leave with us, as your continued gift to our audience.
Tse: For the AAPI colleagues, I would say that we need to really step up and speak out. Be able to say, this is why we should be recognized, this is how it has been helping the organization. And then this is what I need from you, because we haven't been asking, we've been waiting to be advanced. The other thing too, is that with the people that are non-Asian Pacific Islanders, make the effort really reach out to your colleagues, find out what's going on, and also, with the bystander, are people being overlooked, are people spoken over? Have we not created that space because people talk over each other here in the United States. And a lot of us that are Asians are just like, we're waiting for that space to be able to speak up. So we don't want to pile on. So give us the space and the grace to allow us to really contribute everything that we can.
Weaver: Well, Claire those are three good points, and let me make sure that I captured them. One is to speak up, talk about your experiences, help educate and inform the organization about how you feel. And the second one was a big one, demand what you want, don't assume that you're going to get it because folks are just going to do the right thing. Many people do, but a whole lot of people don't. So make a demand for what you want. And then the third point was for those corporations and companies to provide the space and the encouragement to understand the Asian experience, but also explore any particular biases, whether they be individual or systemic that occur in your organization that could be getting in the way of Asians advancing into key leadership roles, and being heard in terms of being at some of the recognitions around approach to the business.
This has been a phenomenal conversation as we always have Claire, but I want you at look up Claire Tse of TSE Solutions, she is a phenomenal diversity, inclusion and engagement expert, been doing this work for 30 years. And I commend you, Claire, for the work that you're doing to really address this whole issue of anti-Asian hate. So, I'm Dr. Vanessa Weaver, your host of Workin' It Out, and I wish you a safe, productive, and be happy week.